Metro’s Celebrate 25 Gala raises $65,000 for LGBTQ youth, seniors and transgender services

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St. Petersburg | Metro Wellness & Community Centers has announced that its Celebrate 25 Gala, held this year on Nov. 11, raised just over $65,000 after expenses for programs and services for LGBTQ youth and seniors.

The event was hosted by comedian Christine O’Leary, nominated by Curve Magazine to be one of the “50 Funniest Lesbians in America,” with additional entertainment provided by local favorites Jennifer Real and DJ Bill Kody. It generated record attendance for the organization, which holds a gala annually to raise funds and celebrate the community, with over 500 attendees gathering to commemorate Metro’s 25th year.

“Christine is so great, and so supportive,” James Keane, director of LGBTQ programs and development, tells Watermark. “It was the fourth time she’s come into town for us.”

While guests dined, drank, took photographs and participated in auctions, PNC Bank vice-president and inclusion consultant Ashley Brundage won the Robert Pope Distinguished Leadership Award. The Infection Disease Associates of Tampa Bay also received the Dr. John Barnett Service Award, and the Spirit of Service Excellence Award was presented to the Tampa Bay Area Cyclists. Afterwards, guests took to the dance floor.

The funds raised by “the generous support from our sponsors, donors, community members and volunteers,” Keane says, “will benefit our youth, transgender and senior groups,” such as Metro’s S.A.F.E. (Supporting Young Adults For Equality) Program, which delivers support to LGBTQ+ youth through structured peer support.

Also included are the organization’s programs like SAGE, designed for advocacy and services for LGBT elders, as well as Metro’s many transgender services and support networks, designed to promote health, wellness and community.

It’s Metro’s commitment to the community it serves, and the community’s reciprocal support, that has contributed to the organization’s successful 25 years. With an impending expansion into its 47,000-square-foot space and the inclusion of a health center, next year’s gala should be another success.

“We’re talking about what to do next year,” Keane tells us. “All I can tell you is to stay tuned.”

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